Aug 29

Mets’ Outfield Prospect Matt den Dekker To Make Debut Today

Providing the weather clears, the New York Mets will run out another rookie this afternoon: lanky center fielder Matt den Dekker. This kid can fly and run down a ball in the gap with anybody the Mets have, but is a slow study at the plate.

Den Dekker’s opportunity comes in the aftermath of the trade of Marlon Byrd to Pittsburgh.

DEN DEKKER: Tracks them down.

DEN DEKKER: Tracks them down.

A capsule of den Dekker’s production was last year when he hit .340 at Double-A Binghamton, but .220 at Triple-A Buffalo. Den Dekker was producing for Triple-A Las Vegas, hitting .296 with six home runs, eight doubles and 38 RBI in 53 games.

Like other outfield prospects in the organization – Kirk Nieuwenhuis and Juan Lagares – den Dekker has had too high a strikeout ratio for his production.

However, after starting the season with a broken wrist, den Dekker’s strikeout ratio has dropped and he’s walking more. The speculation is the injury forced him to shorten his swing.

When the Mets opened Citi Field, they did so under the pretext of defense and pitching, but their first significant signing was Jason Bay.

From left to right, the Mets will likely go with Eric Young, den Dekker and Lagares, easily their fastest and best defensive outfield alignment they’ve had in a long time.

The projected power numbers from that trio would be too low for the major leagues, but theoretically it could be acceptable if they were getting it elsewhere, but David Wright is on the disabled list (he leaves for treatment in Florida today) and they are getting nothing from Ike Davis.

The Mets will use the final month to get an idea of what their outfield could look like next year. With the absence of Byrd, the Mets will still look for a power-hitting outfielder over the winter.

Should they obtain that kind of outfielder, it could come down to den Dekker or Lagares for the starting job in center. Lagares has been impressive in streaks, but strikes out too much. Defensively, den Dekker goes back on the ball better, which is very important in Citi Field, but Lagares, who already has 11 assists, might have a stronger arm.

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Aug 20

Mets Should Not Be Eager To Rush David Wright’s Return

As expected, David Wright said he hopes to return to the New York Mets this season, but there’s no timetable.

WRIGHT: No reason to rush him back.

WRIGHT: No reason to rush him back.

Wright said the status of his “strained,’’ hamstring day-to-day, which is to say neither he nor the Mets have any idea of when he’ll be back at third base. Tuesday night was the 16th game he has missed.

“I want to come back,’’ Wright told reporters today. “It is frustrating because I want to be out there, but at the same time I don’t want this to be a chronic problem where it continues to happen because you didn’t rehab it properly the first time.”

The Mets rushed players before – notably Carlos Beltran and Jose Reyes – but the objectives of finishing .500 and/or second base aren’t enough to warrant the risk with Wright.

Wright hasn’t had any setbacks and is rehabbing gradually, beginning with strengthening his legs and increasing his flexibility. He’s working the upper half of his body by throwing and hitting off a tee. It’s not inconceivable he would be able to come back this season, but what’s the rush? What would be the purpose?

Wright wants to play, but he’s played with injuries before it has backfired. If he were to be re-injured again the next recovery process would be even longer, and more difficult because it would be in the offseason.

However, for now the plan is to keep rehabbing with the same medical staff and trainers, and start a running program before heading to Port St. Lucie, Fla., where the Mets make their spring training home. Wright believes it is important the same training staff he’s been working with institute the next phase of his recovery program.

Hamstrings are tricky and take a long time. The rule of thumb is whatever the timetable, add at least another week. The running program begins with light jogging, then increasing speed until it is a sprint. From there, he would run the bases and simulate changing speeds and directions, so figure at least another two weeks.

Wright, named the Mets’ captain this spring, started the All-Star Game and was batting .309 with 16 homers and 54 RBI.

The Mets have exceed expectations, but that doesn’t warrant the risk of rushing Wright, because although they are playing better than hoped, the hopes are even greater for 2014.

As always, your comments are greatly appreciated and I will attempt to answer them. Follow me on Twitter @jdelcos

Aug 14

Did Mets Mishandle Wilmer Flores Injury?

Once again the New York Mets’ handling of an injury leaves us scratching our heads. This time, it is Wilmer Flores, who one week into the major leagues, isn’t wise or brave enough to say, “hey, something is wrong here.’’

FLORES: Limping to DL? (Getty)

FLORES: Limping to DL? (Getty)

Flores sprained his right ankle running the bases Monday, did not play Tuesday and could soon go on the disabled list. All this in the wake of rookie infielder telling reporters: “It’s just sore. That’s it. I was able to play. … I think I’ll be all right.’’

But, his career is a week old, so I can’t blame him. But, what should be done is question the decision not to take him out of the game and not have him undergo X-Rays or a MRI.

In contrast, Giants defensive back Antrel Rolle sprained his ankle the same day, had a MRI and is in a walking boot. The Mets haven’t even said when Flores will get a X-Ray, but we should presume today.

Terry Collins, whom I have written should be brought back, said Flores stayed in the game after getting his ankle taped after the half-inning. He didn’t say if they spit or rubbed dirt on the ankle.

Collins explained: “It’s pretty stiff. In this world we live in, there’s always the possibility of the DL. We certainly won’t know anything for a day or so. I think the fact that he was taped up might have kept it a little bit intact. But after the game he was very, very uncomfortable. And [Tuesday] he was even worse.’’

Part of the Mets’ “new culture’’ after the hiring of GM Sandy Alderson was a better, cleaner, handling of injuries.

Before, Ryan Church, Carlos Beltran, Jose Reyes, Jenrry Mejia, Pedro Martinez and Mike Pelfrey were mishandled. Later in the Alderson Era, it has been David Wright – several times, including let him play with a fracture in his back and the recent hamstring strain that has him on the disabled list – Reyes, Johan Santana and Ike Davis.

Beltran, in fact, was so botched that he had surgery on his own which turned out to be a mitigating factor in his departure from the team.

All this, and Collins was taking preliminary bows the other night about limiting the innings of Matt Harvey and Zack Wheeler to protect them from injury. All that, but there’s no mention of limiting Mejia, who is pitching well after coming off Tommy John surgery.

The bottom line is Collins has been around long enough to know not to listen to a player when he says “I’m fine,’’ because players are notorious liars.

If that bottom line isn’t bold enough, then try this one: Get a MRI!

As always, your comments are greatly appreciated and I will attempt to answer them. Follow me on Twitter @jdelcos

Aug 11

Mets’ Ike Davis Showing Breakthrough Signs

One of the hidden storylines for the New York Mets Saturday was Ike Davis’ batting average breaking .200 heading north.

The Mets stuck with Davis longer than they should have before demoting him July 9, but it was because a slow 2012 first half culminated with a late surge that saw him finish with 32 homers, and that’s production GM Sandy Alderson couldn’t ignore.

DAVIS: Scoring last night vs. D-Backs. (Getty)

DAVIS: Scoring last night vs. D-Backs. (Getty)

“He showed what he is capable of last year in the second half,’’ Alderson said in the weeks prior to the demotion in explaining why Davis was still taking his three empty swings and heading back to the dugout. “We have to keep that in the back of our mind.’’

Davis had two hits against Arizona to raise his average to .203, but also drew two walks. Not enough to warrant a contract extension, but consider Davis is hitting .300 since returning from Triple-A Las Vegas compared to .161 before the desert and you can see the difference.

Davis’ pre-Vegas strikeouts-to-walks ratio was 66-to-19; it is now, brace yourself, 22-to-25. He’s still not hitting for power with one homer and nine RBI, but first things first. His patience and pitch selection is far better, and if it continues, the run production will increase.

Davis has not done enough to warrant the Mets’ tendering him a contract this winter, but a strong finish would give Alderson reason to think, instead of looking at Josh Satin or Wilmer Flores or somebody in the free-agent market.

The Mets claim they’ll have more resources this winter, but they still are a franchise feeling financial strain. They aren’t about to throw money away, and that would include bringing back Davis at his current run-production.

Davis is making $3.1 million this season, which is chump change for a 30-homer bat. He has six homers and 25 RBI, which isn’t enough to keep him, but 15 homers and 50 RBI is definitely doable. That could change everything.

Currently working against him is a horrid first half that has him in a platoon with Satin, and with David Wright on the disabled list, pitchers can work around Davis.

As far as next year, Satin will be cheaper, but he doesn’t have Davis’ power. Perhaps he’s a right-handed Daniel Murphy at best.

Power is not expected from Satin and irrelevant now from Davis, what matters is having an idea and a light has switched on above his head.

As always, your comments are greatly appreciated and I will attempt to answer them. Follow me on Twitter @jdelcos

Aug 10

Mets Even Thinking Of Trading Wilmer Flores Is Absurd

All of a sudden, I’ve been reading with head-scratching confusion how several bloggers are suggesting the New York Mets trade Wilmer Flores.

Why? What good would it serve other than just giving away a prospect? What could they possibly get for him now? Their confused reasoning is since the Mets have few position player prospects they should trade their best one. Yup, makes sense to me.

FLORES: Don't even think of trading him.

FLORES: Don’t even think of trading him.

Flores has been with the Mets for just a handful of games, too small a window to ascertain his potential, and also way too tiny for another team to figure out what to do with him or how he could fit into their plans.

The reason the Mets are having a hard time figuring out what to do with him, and only brought him up because of David Wright’s strained hamstring, is because they don’t know where to play him because he doesn’t have a position.

Wright will occupy third base for much of the next decade; supposedly he doesn’t have the range to play shortstop or speed to go to the outfield; and Daniel Murphy is the second baseman for the foreseeable future.

Other teams also see that, and American League teams are reluctant to use young prospects as a designated hitter let alone trade for one to assume that role. Veteran bats caught in a position logjam, or those that can’t play the field, usually end up as the designated hitter.

I’ll bet you can’t name many prospects stuck in the DH role. At least none on a long-term basis.

So, where could Flores end up playing?

I wrote over a week ago he could be a first-base option should the Mets opt not to tender a contract to Ike Davis, who would then leave as a free agent. Assuming the high probability of that scenario, isn’t it likely other teams have reached the same conclusion?

And, given that, wouldn’t a team needing a bat, particularly a left-handed one, wait until Davis is a free agent instead of trading for him? Davis, after all, based on 32 homers last season, has a more immediate upside than Flores.

Trading Flores now is akin to giving him away because nobody – including the Mets – has a real understanding of his value this early in his career.

Flores could have trade value in the future, but not now. His value to the Mets, with Wright most likely out for the rest of the month, is to establish what he can and can’t do.

Even at the end of the season it would be premature to think of trading him. Should the Mets decide to test Flores at first base next year, they would want to play him there during the winter and let him compete for the spot during spring training.

Any move involving Flores prior to that would be a mistake. A knee-jerk reaction to the highest degree.

As always, your comments are greatly appreciated and I will attempt to answer them. Follow me on Twitter @jdelcos